Science News

It is presently challenging to determine the stability of viscoelastic structures since seemingly stable conformations may gradually creep (plastic deformation of a material under stress as a function of time) until their stability is lost. Although a discernable creeping effect does not necessarily lend to instability of viscoelastic solids, researchers are currently limited with numerical simulations to predict the future stability relative to theoretical predictive tools. In a new report on Science Advances, Erez Y. Urbach and Efi Efrati in physics and complex systems at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, described viscoelastic solids through an evolving instantaneous reference metric to measure elastic strains. The transparent and intuitive methods derived in this work for incompressible viscoelastic solids reduced the question of future stability to static calculations alone. The team showed the predictive power of the approach by understanding the subtle mechanisms of delayed instability in thin elastomeric shells in order to demonstrate quantitative agreement with experiments.
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